Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hammer And Tongs Philosophy

Gotta like Feser.

Are You Ready To Rumble?

Perhaps not yet, but soon:

NICK GILLESPIE: Public Sector Drives Deep Into The Night. “There is a looming showdown in American society between public-sector employees and the rest of us, in terms of job security and, especially, unsustainable gold-plated retirement and health benefits that are working hard to bankrupt whole states such as California, New York, and New Jersey. As with some parts of the private sector (domestically owned auto companies, for instance), basic compensation packages were hammered into place in a very different America, and conferred massive future benefits when politicians were either too stupid or too cowardly to confront basic questions of fiscal responsibility. Do you want to spend your life (and have your kids spend their lives) to pay ever-increasing taxes for teacher, cop, and bureaucrat retirements at early ages? Especially while you’re expected to fully fund your own? This is a social contract that needs to be redrawn ASAP.”

It’s not a contract — those involve voluntary exchange — but it will be redrawn, one way or another.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Robin Of Berkeley Goes To Christmas Eve Mass

Her first time going to church! A touching and often amusing story.

As Good An Explanation As Any

A diagnosis.

Republicans Run For President, Democrats Run For King, And A King Is What We Now Have

The Anchoress:

Because George W. Bush could be such a trial to listen to, sometimes, I got into the habit of reading his speeches, and I always came away from them impressed by how substantive they were. When I read Obama’s speeches, I find myself thinking, “just words; lots and lots of words.” And lately, they’re not even particularly polished words.

Neo may be on to something as she wonders if Obama is simply unfamiliar with the material, or disinterested, or worried. And certainly this president, for a young, athletic man, is exhibiting a worrisome lack of stamina for his job. But I suspect that Obama’s listless speechifying is betraying a restless impatience. I suspect Obama is bored with being president, and it’s not because he is too smart for the office, but because the office is too much like real work.

I suspect all he ever wanted was the campaign glory (though not the inconvenience of interrupted waffles), the adoring headlines, and the ability to pick up a phone and ask for anything he wants without hearing a “no” on the other end.

I suspect that what Obama wanted was to be the King, not the President. The King’s role is largely ceremonial. In time of national tragedy the King goes before the camera and says, “this is very sad.” If he can assign blame on a perceived enemy he does so, and then he steps aside and retires to his amusements while those actually in charge clean up the mess and determine how to prevent future messes. Everyone loves the King, defers to the King, rushes to do for the King, but the King -who tends to get bored and distracted by the dry business of actually governing- is responsible for very little, and most are just as glad of it.

If a King is on vacation and his country encounters an critical issue, he knows there is no need to come jetting back to the palace, because the Prime Minister is taking care of reality. All the King needs to do is -in a day or three- show up at a microphone in casual dress and do the PR work of expressing concern over the issue and confidence in the government. The King can command instant coverage, even if there is only time for audio.

A King does not worry, so much, about representative governance, since it is irrelevent to his standing.

Sadly, though, America is not in need of his Kingship.

America needs a good old-fashioned President...


So, we have a King. But we haven’t a Prime Minister. Mrs. Pelosi won’t do, nor will Mr. Reid. We need a president.

Complementary Pretzels And Hashish

Hilarious parody, a little too close to the truth.








A Principle That Bears Repeating


I go back to the fundamental mathematics of lending and business, as I have repeatedly explained over the last two years and change. That is, the more people that touch a deal the less money there is available in that deal for the end purchaser. What this means is that the maximum risk-adjusted return exists when one person loans another money - the more complex the deal gets than that, the less total return the end buyer of the debt, all-in, can obtain - UNLESS SOMEONE CHEATS.

Sound Business Principles


I turned on the local news this morning, and heard, once again, that the MBTA [Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority] has to increase fares and reduce service in order to make ends meet this fiscal year. As a business person who has had total profit and loss responsibility for several firms over the years, I was curious how reducing product quality and increasing the price charged to customers could ever work in the marketplace. So, I started to look into the MBTA budget for 2009. The first thing I noticed (and you can also go to the MBTA Web site and follow along) is that salaries and fringe benefits are nearly HALF of the total operating expenses. Having been the vice president of a major ground transportation company at one time, it was a rule that salaries and fringe could not exceed 1/3 of total operating expenses in order to remain viable and competitive. But unlike a "for profit" private sector business, the "T" doesn't have to control costs - it just has to increase fares and cut services.

As I continued to peruse the budget, I searched for the cost of pensions and health insurance for retirees - since they have to be fully funded and increased each year to keep up with the rising costs, and since they combined to be the Achilles heal for General Motors, I thought I'd be able to find out what kind of burden they continue to impose. Unfortunately, unlike any other public agency in the commonwealth, the MBTA does not have to publish its pension obligations because it operates outside the state's retirement agency. I was able to find out a few of the generalities of the burden all commuters are paying - maybe you knew this, but as a daily commuter looking at working to pay off my home, my kid's college debt and keep up with rising taxes, I was appalled - especially since I will still be working at age 75 in order to pay everything off!

MBTA workers can receive a full pension after 23 years of service, regardless of age. So, if an MBTA worker graduated from high school and got a job at age 19, he or she is eligible to receive a full pension at age 42! Not only that, he or she will also receive free health insurance for life. And, since 42 is a prime working age, MBTA pensioners can work at other jobs and earn as much as possible, unlike other state retirees, and pile those wages on top of their MBTA pension.

So, when I heard that commuter rail weekend service may be suspended, and that there is a real potential for weekday service reductions - AND, fares may have to be increased dramatically, I asked myself, "Why are the struggling commuters who are paying the salaries of these people, just sitting there and taking it?" The MBTA general manager, Dan Grabuaskas, says his hands are tied. In fact, according to a local daily paper, Grabuaskas even tried to give his management team a 9 percent pay raise, until pressure from the governor's office convinced him to back it off to 3 percent.

Cheney Deploys The Clue-By-Four

With extreme prejudice. As quoted at GayPatriot:

As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Well Said

More wisdom in this review of Edward Feser's The Last Superstition than you'll find in a year's worth of Pharyngula postings and associated comments:

Allow me to present the actual argument, rather than the mutilated straw man offered by one of the previous reviewers.

Principle of causality:

Everything which begins to exist, has a cause for its beginning.

This is a self-evident principle. It is not made up, "conjured," "mystical," or any of the other ad hominem remarks of the prior reviewer.

It is also patently obvious and unquestionably true. If something begins to exist, it either has a cause--a principle of its being--or it does not. If it has no principle of being, no reason for its coming to exist, it has come from nothing and nowhere. But this is impossible; ex nihilo nihil fit. Out of nothing (absolutely nothing, meaning not a blank void, not a vacuum, not empty space, but literally NOTHING) nothing can come. Hence everything which begins to exist has a cause.

Now in the world we see many things which are caused. I press the keyboard, causing words to appear on the screen. You throw a baseball through a window, causing the glass to break. And so forth.

We can also take an example of an ascending series of causes. The brush causes paint to spread over the canvas, the artist's hand causes the brush to move, the artist's arm causes the hand to move, the brain causes the signal to be sent to move the arm, and so forth.

This sort of series--an essentially subordinated series of causes--cannot proceed indefinitely/infinitely. Why not?

Take the following example (with credit due to one of my past philosophy professors).

You go to a movie theater. You approach the ticket window, motion to the man standing behind you, and say "He'll pay for my ticket."

Then the second patron comes to the window, points to the third guy, and says "He'll pay for both of us."

If the third, fourth, fifth, and ten millionth customer do the same, then the poor person who is last in line will have an industrial-sized ticket price.

But if the line is infinitely long, if--literally--the line is without end (because that is what the "infinite" means) then the theater will never get its money.

The theater stands analogously for reality, the patrons of the movie stand for contingent beings which do not exist necessarily (for instance, those now reading this review did not exist 200 years ago; hence they are contingent), and the money stands for existence.

Because all of the movie-goers defer payment to the last person in line, and because there is no last person in line, there is no money, and the theater is never paid. Because all contingent beings, being non-necessary, defer explanation of their existence to another, and because the deferral cannot proceed forever if we are indeed to acknowledge that things really exist, there must a Being Who does not defer the explanation of His existence, because He is His own existence, Ipsum Esse Subsistens.

No special pleading, no question begging, no logical fallacies. All of this is common sense, rendered more philosophically rigorous by classical metaphysics.

On the contrary, atheists like "Beth," so long as they admit that anything at all exists, assert the following, analogously:

1. The last person in the theater line pays the whole ticket price.
2. There is no last person in the theater line.
3. The theater receives its money.

More obvious examples of contradiction are hard to come by.

The review offered by "Beth" is a sad example both of philosophical ignorance and of emotionalism in argumentation.

The relentless petty insults, misrepresented arguments, ad hominems, accusations of non-existent logical fallacies, and gratuitous shots at believers, lead one to believe that the reviewer is actually trying--unsuccessfully--to convince herself of the atheism she latently knows to be logically impossible.

Unfortunately, the review by "Beth" no longer exists, proving its own contingency.

A Christian Koan

I just saw this line in a poem contained in the January issue of First Things:

It takes forever to become immortal.

Grab A Hanky

And watch this.

It Never Works Out That Way


Meanwhile, Bruce Schneier comments: “Only one carry on? No electronics for the first hour of flight? I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.”

Monday, December 28, 2009

"We Can Serve Christ Via Sanctified, Faithful, God-Pleasing, Church-Sponsored Prostitution"

A most excellent parody. Until the Episcopalians run with it.

We Played The Flute For You, And You Did Not Dance; We Sang A Dirge, And You Did Not Mourn

If you believe something without compelling evidence, you're a moron, but if you think you do have compelling evidence for what you believe, you're arrogant.

P.Z. Myers is as dense as they come. If he wants to talk about arrogance, then isn't it more arrogant to claim that Almighty God could not possibly have made friends with any human beings? Who the hell is this backwater junior college pipsqueak to tell God what He can and cannot do?

His latest wisdom:

But then, you elected this profoundly stupid man to be your governor, so it's all your own fault. I was reading an interview with Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana that was just embarrassingly bad.

To me, the core of the Christian faith is humility, which starts with recognizing that you're as fallen as anyone else. And we're all constantly trying to get better, but... so I'm sure I come up short on way too many occasions.

Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith. It was founded on principles of faith. The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we're all children of a just God. It is very important to at least my notion of what America's about and should be about and I hope it's reflected most of the time in the choices that we make personally.

The core of Christianity has never been humility, but arrogance. This is a faith that claims its followers have privileged contact with an immortal, omniscient being, that claims that believers are especially loved by the most powerful intelligence in the universe, and that those who believe most devoutly will be rewarded after death with cushy lives in paradise, while the rest of us burn in torment for eternity. Governor Daniels needs to crack a dictionary.

a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.

There is nothing humble in believing one has an inside line to god. Sure, Christians talk about being "fallen" and "sinners", but what it's all about is false modesty: we're all fallen, but Christians get to be saved, and you don't.

What's all this crap about "privileged contact? and an "inside line"? God will befriend anyone who refrains from being a total dick and turns toward Him. If P.Z. arrogantly chooses Hell, there's no one to blame but himself.

Our genius high priest of Science!--who is often in a state of high moral outrage--goes on to say in the same post:

There is no eternal standard of right and wrong.

Fine then; it's good to know that by your own standards, your rantings have no real lasting moral force. But if others do not so choose to emasculate themselves, and choose to humble themselves before an objective moral law, I guess that's arrogance.

Plenty Of Nothing

The perils of an affirmative action president:

I don’t think Obama is smart at all. I think his reputation for smarts is one of the great cons foisted on the American people, greater even than the con that Gore and Kerry, both of whom were undistinguished college students, as their transcripts show, were smarter than Bush, whose transcripts reveal him to be a slightly better student than those two “men of genius.”

We have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Obama is smart. To begin with, we have no evidence at all of his academic abilities. (And I will concede that, while academic smarts don’t demonstrate functional intelligence, they are still a good yardstick of a brain that operates at a fairly high level.) We do not know how he did in Indonesia, his high school years are a blur, we do not know what happened during his stint at Occidental, we know nothing about his Columbia years, and the only thing we know about his Harvard years is that he made Law Review.

Liberals like to point to the Columbia and Harvard attendance (let alone the Law Review) as evidence in and of itself that the guy is smart. After all, only smart people go to those schools. Au contraire, my friends. Thanks to the poisonous influence of affirmative action, an influence alive and well during Obama’s entire academic career, only smart whites and Asians go to those schools. If you’re black and ambitious, you can into and stay in those schools despite less than stellar academic showings. Columbia and Harvard need black admissions, and neither can afford for those blacks, once they’re in the school, to appear to be failing.

Let me insert here that I very strongly believe that that blacks can qualify for Columbia and Harvard on their own terms. I am not publishing here a racist disquisition about black intelligence. Anyone who reads that into what I’m writing here is reading me wrong.

What I am saying, is that if you set the standards lower for one racial group than for others, three things will happen: First, the race that has the lower hurdles will stop trying as hard. After all, humans are rational creatures, and people working towards a goal are wise to work only as hard as they need, and no harder. Why expend energy unnecessarily?

Second, those members of the race who are fully capable of competing without a handicap will also behave rationally and conserve their energy, because it’s the smart thing to do. This means that the lower hurdles will deprive them of the psychology opportunity stretch and prove themselves.

Third, a lot of people who would not normally have been in the race at all will bob up to the top, thanks to that handicap. Worse, if there is a critical mass of mediocrity floating along on this tide of affirmative action, those mediocre people will inevitably, through sheer numbers, become representative of the racial group. In other words, if you give enough mediocre people in a specific racial group a head start so that they win, it looks as if all the winners from that particular racial group are mediocre.

The above realities mean that you end up with two dire situations for the racial group that affirmative action infantilizing: First, an enormous number of useless people become very poor representatives of their race. And second, people who are genuinely good and deserving of recognition end up being thrown in the hopper of useless beneficiaries who achieved high status without ability or effort.

My argument is that Barack Obama is one of the number of useless, mediocre people who, thanks to affirmative action, have been elevated to a position far above their natural abilities. The absence of grades is not the only indication of Obama’s intellectual weakness. (And believe me, if his grades were good, they’d be published in every paper in America, including the want ads.)

Everything Obama’s turned his hand to — except for using people to advance his career — has failed. The Annenberg Challenge was a $100 million disaster. His legal career was, to say that least, undistinguished. (I should add here that junior associates always have undistinguished careers. There’s just not that much scope there.) His tenure as an Illinois State Senator was marked by dithering indecision, coupled with the intelligent strategy, for a stupid person, of simply vanishing when the votes came around. The same holds true for his career in the United States Senator. If you examine those two tenures in political office without the gloss of the media love affair, all you’ve got is plenty of nothing.

Obama’s professorship at the U. of Chicago law school was equally undistinguished. He published nothing. His disquisitions on the Constitution show he knows nothing. That is, he doesn’t even have the true intellectual’s excuse of fully understanding, but nevertheless arguing against, the language of the Constitution itself or the standard interpretations of that language. I pity the students who had his class.

All that the liberals can hang their hat on is that one book: Dreams.


[A summary of Cashill's argument that Ayers write the book]


All of which gets me back to Obama. None of the apparent indices of brains pan out: no grades, no job record, no book. Nothing at all. His sole talent, and I have to say that it’s a spectacular one, is to be a con man. He has a deep voice, good looks, and a network of behind the scenes operators who have been deeply invested in his advancement. The only problem with running a con, as Harold Hill discovered when he had to produce that “boys band,” is that, if you stick around after you’ve run the con, people expect you to perform. And Obama, who has none of the advertised talents, is utterly trapped.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Zo's Christmas Message

Good stuff. And remember, it's only the third day of Christmas!

"So Here Comes Obama, As Ignorant Of All This As A Little Lamb."

An interesting take on Obama's "loss of face" with the Chinese.


Mark Steyn:

Nations that governmentalize health care soon find themselves talking about little else.

In Canada, once the wait times for MRIs and hip surgery start creeping up over two years, the government distracts the citizenry with a Royal Commission appointed to study possible “reforms” which reports back a couple of years later usually with recommendations to “strengthen” the government’s “commitment” to every Canadian’s “right” to health care by renaming the Department of Health the Department of Health Services and abolishing the Agency of Health Administration and replacing it with a new Agency of Administrative Health Operations which would report to a reformed Council of Health Policy Administrative Coordination to be supervised by a streamlined Public Health Operations & Administration Assessment Bureau. This package of “reforms” would cost a mere 12.3 gazillion dollars and usually keeps the lid on the pot until the wait times for MRIs start creeping up over three years.

The other alternative is what the British did earlier this year: They created an exciting new “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” promising every Briton the “right” to hospital treatment within 18 weeks. Believe it or not, that distant deadline shimmering woozily in the languid desert haze can be oddly reassuring if you’ve ever visited a Scottish emergency room on a holiday weekend. And, if the four-and-a-half months go by and you still haven’t been treated, you get your (tax) money back? Ah, no. But there is a free helpline you can call which will give you continuously updated estimates on which month your operation has been rescheduled for. I mention these not as a preview of the horrors to come, but because I’ve come to the bleak conclusion that U.S.-style “health” “reform” is going to be far worse.

We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 percent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 percent shakedown. On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it.

Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

That’s why I believe America’s belated embrace of government health care is going to be far more expensive and disastrous than the Euro-Canadian models. Whatever one’s philosophical objection to the Canadian health system, it is, broadly, fair: Unless you’re a cabinet minister or a bigtime hockey player, you’ll enjoy the same equality of crappiness and universal lack of access that everybody else does. But, even before it’s up-and-running, Pelosi-Reid-Obamacare is an impenetrable thicket of contradictory boondoggles, shameless payoffs, and arbitrary shakedowns...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Fundamental Right Whose Fundamental Nature Will Require Its Perpetual Curtailment

The philosophical incoherence of health care (rather than its pursuit) as a right:

This week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that his chamber’s health care bill “demands for the first time in American history that good health will not depend on great wealth.” Reid said the legislation “acknowledges, finally, that health care is a fundamental right—a human right—and not just a privilege for the most fortunate.”


[N]otwithstanding Reid’s claim that government-subsidized health care is a fundamental human right, it does not make much sense to say that it exists in a country too poor to afford such subsidies or at a time before modern medicine, let alone in the state of nature. Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers have a right to the “affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care” that the Congressional Progressive Caucus says is a right of “every person”? If so, who was violating that right?


According to the president, people have a right to health care because it is wrong to charge them for medical services they can’t afford. Which is another way of saying they have a right to health care.

While liberty rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of contract require others to refrain from acting in certain ways, “welfare rights” such as the purported entitlement to health care (or to food, clothing, or shelter) require others to perform certain actions. They represent a legally enforceable claim on other people’s resources. Taxpayers must cover the cost of subsidies; insurers and medical professionals must provide their services on terms dictated by the government.

A right to health care thus requires the government to infringe on people’s liberty rights by commandeering their talents, labor, and earnings. And since new subsidies will only exacerbate the disconnect between payment and consumption that drives health care inflation, such interference is bound to increase as the government struggles to control ever-escalating spending. Rising costs will also encourage the government to repeatedly redefine the right to health care, deciding exactly which treatments it includes.

If health care is a fundamental right, equality under the law would seem to require that everyone have the same level of care, regardless of their resources. That principle was illustrated by the case of Debbie Hirst, a British woman with metastasized breast cancer who in 2007 was denied access to a commonly used drug on the grounds that it was too expensive.

When Hirst decided to raise money to pay for the drug on her own, she was told that doing so would make her ineligible for further treatment by the National Health Service. According to The New York Times, “Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.” The right to health care is so important, it seems, that it can nullify itself.

The Government Is Once Again Taking A Microscopic Problem And Using It As An Excuse To Ruin An Entire Sector Of Life


Everyone would like more space, free food, pillows galore, carefree flight attendants, and all the other amenities once associated with air travel. But what we would like is not the same as what we will pay for. Given a choice between enjoying amenities and saving money, most of us invariably choose the latter. We want to get to our destination as cheaply as possible, and the air travel market has accommodated that preference.

The decline in prices, adjusted for inflation, has come at the expense of the airlines, which have gotten used to providing their services at well below cost. They have lost money in six of the last eight years, piling up net losses of nearly $60 billion and making bankruptcy a more common occurrence than snowfall at O'Hare.

For all that, we should be grateful to the people who run and staff the commercial air carriers. But the Obama administration thinks fliers are getting a raw deal and need what it calls a "passenger bill of rights." This week, the Department of Transportation issued a rule decreeing that airlines may not keep passengers waiting on the runway for more than three hours without giving them a chance to flee for the exits.

Nor may carriers hold their flights for more than two hours without furnishing food and water to everyone on board. Any carrier that doesn't meet these requirements will face fines of up to $27,500 per passenger. On a plane with 140 passengers, that would add up to more than $3.8 million.

At those prices, protracted waits on the tarmac will soon be a thing of the past. But the change won't keep fliers from having to endure even longer delays or other major headaches. The ATA says cancellations will become more common, and American Airlines says "we will be forced to cancel more flights than we had under our self-imposed, four-hour policy."

Aviation consultant Robert Mann agrees. "The unintended consequence: No one gets to go," he told The Chicago Tribune's Julie Johnsson. Instead of being stuck in a plane for four hours, you could be stuck in an airport or a hotel for a day, or two, awaiting a plane with an empty seat going to your destination.

The occasional horror story gets a lot of attention. But the more newsworthy fact is the extreme rarity of this phenomenon. DOT says each year, about 1,500 flights are stranded on the runway for more than three hours. Sounds like a lot, until you realize that there are some 9.3 million domestic departures annually.

The evil targeted by DOT occurs once for every 6,200 flights. That's not a scandal. It's a miracle.

There is more than a whiff of arrogance in the new regulation. When a reporter asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood what would happen if a plane needed only an extra five minutes to take off, he snorted, "You know as well as I do that five minutes always extends out to 50 minutes and almost always to 5 hours. There's no such thing as five minutes, never, ever." He was not joking.

The DOT rule flows from two presumptions common in Washington: 1) that private businesses have insufficient motivation to satisfy their patrons, and 2) that government regulators are capable of making better operational decisions than the people whose livelihoods are at stake.

Someday, maybe our leaders will figure out that neither is usually true. But before that happens, expect a very long delay.

The Senate Democrats Wish You A Merry Christmas

And say, "You're welcome!" for the gift they brung.

Image Hosted by

Image lifted from this AJ Strata post.


Go Home Dems – Stop Trying To Play Santa Claus

You know this could be a really nice Christmas if those oversized egos in DC would just stop trying to shove their mugs into our holiday spirit. In what has to be the worst case of “look at me!” I have ever seen, the Democrats pushed through a tortured wreck of a bill on health care yesterday. Even many liberal Democrats hate the misshapen monster that has plopped out of the sausage mill called the US Senate...

What we have is a prime example of what comes out of a process highjacked by zealots trying to force something on others in a democracy. There is so much opposition to this in the American public this beastie had to be put together with bribes and baling twine to pass the Senate. Thankfully it will be the shining exclamation point on a lot of incompetent careers, starting in 2010 when the people start throwing the bums out.

The epitome of arrogance on display by the buffoons in DC is the fact they are pushing this through on Christmas. This is an important time for families to sit back and give thanks for sacrifices made by others. It is also a time to remember that we can make it through the hard times by simply not giving up on the dream of a better future.

Instead, at this special time what we see in DC is this gaggle of egomaniacs clamoring for media attention to tell us all how great they are. Truly obnoxious. They are trying to compete with Santa Claus, to show they have the power to give to others great gifts.

Well it looks more like a lump of coal to me. I don’t trust bureaucrats to run DMVs, let alone work on my car. Why would I trust them with life and death issues for my family? I have enough trouble screening out incompetent MD’s and delinquent nurses (thankfully these are few and far between, but I have found my fair share). Now you add in disinterested and power mad bureaucrats trying to save a few bucks and I am supposed to be thrilled?

This is the big problem with liberals. They always think of simpleton solutions to complex challenges and then go on to try and save the world in their simple way. They live and breathe their Walter Mitty moments each and every day, deluding themselves with their brilliance and greatness. They fail to grasp the true complexities of the world, therefore everything seems simple in their simple minds. That is how they thought up the disaster of Global Cooling Warming. That is why they think there is no need for a military because all we have to do is be nice to evil people and they will be nice back. That is why they want the government to do everything for us instead of us taking care (and pride) in ourselves. They are not filling our need, they are feeding their own ego’s need.

Liberals need to be seen as Santa Claus (or Robin Hood, etc). They are so insecure they get this bizarre obsession to be seen as all powerful givers of good to all people. And this year, with health care, this mental disorder is on display in neon lights, overshadowing what should be a time for family to be together and look on the bright side for a bit.

Go home Dems, leave us be for a few days of Peace on Earth. You have all next year to tell us how great you are, on your way off the public stage of politics.


Brian Tiemann on what made the Star Wars prequels so messed up from a character development point of view.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Asks a commenter to the post, "What planet or hallucinogen is Harry Reid on?"


Dems not worried about post-vote backlash at home

Democrats today have repeatedly expressed a confidence that they won't face a backlash for their votes when they return home for the holidays, which would stand in marked contrast to the August recess.

"This is a happy day. (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell said on the floor that we're going to go home and hear our constituents rail against this bill. I don't believe that. I believe that the negativity that Leader McConnell and others have continually displayed on the floor has peaked, and now when people learn what's actually in the bill—and all the good it does—it is going to become more and more popular because it is good for America, good for the American people, and a true symbol of what we can do if we all pull together," said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.

On the floor before the vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We're going to hear an earful, but it's going to be an earful of wonderment and happiness that people waited for for a long time."

Lots of good dissenting opinion in the comments to the story. The French aristocracy thought that people pretty much dug them, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Question

Seen in comments here:

I understand that Nelson's capitulation has inspired other Dems to come back and ask for special deals for their states.

I have a question about this. In the future, will the citizens in all of Republican states have to pay for the health care of all of the citizens in the Dem states?

After You Take The Coal Out Of Your Stocking, Put It On And Start Kicking Some Asses

Good bits in this piece:

The joke is, of course, that after all the months of legislative sausage-making, the netroots have suddenly decided that they have been sold out. They were just fine with forcing the American people to stand in line at ObamaCare's DMV, or whatever humiliations the public option would require. They were fine with that. But their finely tuned principles could not endure the humiliation of an individual mandate that forced them to buy health insurance from a health insurance company.

At least the netroots admit who they are. Rush Limbaugh famously says that liberals can't admit who they are, at least not when running for office. It's after liberals get elected that they start behaving like liberals, and Americans don't like that. That's why there's a measurable upchuck factor that is fast becoming a "settled science" among political philosophers. Whenever Americans get a look at what liberalism means for them in practice, they hurl.

What's surprising is how Americans ever find out the truth about liberals. It's not as if the mainstream media is busy telling them about the fatal flaws of ObamaCare. And yet somehow, as ObamaCare has moved through Congress, Americans have turned against it. A week ago, Rasmussen had American voters opposing the health bill by 56-40, with 63 percent of seniors opposed.


How did that happen? Fox News, that's how. Fox News consumers have a 75-4 fav/unfav on the Tea Party movement. Broadcast news consumers are even at 28-27. No wonder the Obama White House wants to delegitimize Fox as a news network.

The White House is, of course, merely trying to shoot the messenger as the bad news pours in. We can be sure that the Democrats never imagined last January that they'd be limping across the finish line on ObamaCare with s straight partisan split and a mangled bill. No doubt they assumed that in the end game they would be shaming Republicans -- set up as the party of No -- into voting for a bill that was soaring in the polls with solid support from a grateful American people.

They guessed wrong, and US politics will never be the same. If Democrats would only look in their own secular holiday stockings, they would find that they too have each got a lump of coal engraved with the words "See you in November." So it's lumps of coal all round.

When Santa leaves you a lump of coal, he is trying to send you a message. And in a little over ten months, the American people will be making a list, [and] checking it twice...

"The Reid Bill Is On A Collision Course With The Constitution"

At WSJ, a capsule summary of the strong fifth amendment argument against a bill designed to ruin the insurance industry.


Seen here:

Men who look upon themselves as born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions...

Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.

--Thomas Paine

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Reason For Thinking This Infamy Will Be Killed By The Judiciary

Another excellent analysis.

They Have Sown The Wind

6 aspects of the coming backlash.

The piece ends:

Together, these actions tell quite a tale. Mr. Obama has revived the worst impressions of the Democratic party – profligate and undisciplined, arrogant, lovers of big government, increasers of taxes. The issues and narrative for American politics in the foreseeable future has been set — limited government versus exploding government, capitalism versus European style socialism, responsible and measured policies versus reckless and radical ones.

Barack Obama is in the process of inflicting enormous damage to his presidency and his party. And there is more, much more to come.

They Make A Wilderness And Call It Social Justice

Not Only Are They Delusional About The Existence Of The Problem, But Now They Want To Use The "Crisis" As An Excuse For Massively Polluting

Leftists seem to always, always have destruction as their deeply buried goal, often enough telegraphing what they intend to destroy by what "concerns" them. They claim to be worried about the contents of the atmosphere. Lo and behold, polluting the skies with sulphur particles is their "solution". Curiously, the same folks who think there is danger of a runaway greenhouse effect due to CO2 show no worry of a runaway ice age generator due to sulphur.

Somehow sulphur seems appropriate as a symbol of salvation for these people.


Nathan Myhrvold also thinks that he has found a cheap and reliable way to solve global warming, which does not involve upending and perhaps destroying the world's economy. The global warming solution proposed by Nathan Myhvold involves running a hose up to the stratosphere with balloons and using that hose to pump out enough sulfur particles to dim the sun's heat just enough to counteract the effects of global warming. The estimated cost would be about two hundred and fifty million dollars.

Nathan Myhrvold suggests that volcanoes and other natural processes already pump out sulfur into the stratosphere and that his scheme, if adopted, would increase that amount by only one percent. Nathan Myhrvold therefore thinks that there would not be any unintended consequences (like starting a new ice age.)


Monday, December 21, 2009

Unconstitutional For So Many Reasons

Besides the fact that ObamaCare is blatantly unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment (and the various bribes targeted to various states to get it passed are blatantly unconstitutional under the 14th amendment), the Senate Bill is also miserably unconstitutional under the 5th amendment.

Here's a good piece of legal analysis explaining why (and also explaining that there already exists plenty of constitutional case law which points to the conclusion that the monstrosity will be tied up in a tsunami of litigation, and will quite probably be voided).

A taste:

The concern that I wish to address at the outset deals with the unprecedented level of systemic coercion that the Reid Bill exerts on the various firms that supply health-insurance coverage in the small-group and individual health-insurance markets. Constitutional concerns with these provisions arise even if one assumes that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to pass comprehensive regulation of health care in this form. Independent of any question about the scope of Congressional power, it is critical to consider that the Fifth Amendment affords regulated health-insurance companies protection against the taking of property without compensation and without due process of law.
These overlapping guarantees bind both the federal government and the state governments in all of their activities, whether undertaken jointly or independently.

These constitutional provisions have been subject to extensive interpretation in the Supreme Court in ratemaking cases, which must be taken into account in dealing with the legislation. The Supreme Court's basic constitutional requirement is that any firm in a regulated market be allowed to recover a risk-adjusted competitive rate of return on its accumulated capital investment. See Duquesne Light Co. v. Barasch, 488 U.S. 299 (1988).

The Reid Bill emphatically fails this test by imposing sharp limitations on the ability of health-insurance companies to raise fees or exclude coverage. Moreover, the Reid Bill forces on these regulated firms onerous new obligations that they will not be able to fund from their various revenue sources. The squeeze between the constricted revenue sources allowable under the Reid Bill and the extensive new legal obligations it imposes is likely to result in massive cash crunch that could drive the firms that serve the individual and small-group health-insurance markets into bankruptcy.


This detailed analysis of the Reid Bill helps to set up the appropriate constitutional analysis. The applicable standards for constitutional review have usually been developed in connection with rate-making procedures in natural monopolies. Within this context, the social objective is to limit the monopoly returns to public utilities, which do not face the risk of competition from new entrants, because they operate in a market in which the declining marginal cost of the initial entrant prevents a new entrant from gaining a toehold. In such a situation, one permissible legislative response is to impose some form of regulation that brings that established player back to a competitive rate of return. I shall pass by all the difficulties in implementing such a program. It is important to note, however, that it is never a satisfactory response for regulators to drive the rates of return down to zero, for then no one would ever be prepared to provide services.

Since it is necessary to compete for capital across the entire range of activities, the constitutional protection afforded under both the Takings and the Due Process Clauses provides that the rate of return cannot fall below that which the investors in the firm could obtain in a competitive market. That calculation has to take into account the level of risk associated with the business, which in general is low with respect to public utilities that have at least de facto protection against new entry.

The hard question, therefore, is what kinds of systems of rate regulation will pass constitutional muster.


What is striking is how far the ratemaking system for health insurance is from all the above. There is no natural monopoly in health insurance, and there is a powerful way to open up health-insurance markets by knocking down the state barriers to entry that have been in effect since 1945 under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Once it is clear—and it is generally clear—that the health insurance industry is competitive or could easily be made competitive, the entire rationale for government ratemaking is undermined. The point of ratemaking was to require the firm to accept competitive rates of returns in a market setting where it enjoyed monopoly power. Here, the market is either competitive already, or easily can be made so. In this environment, ratemaking no longer serves any useful function.

Contrary to the implicit assumption behind the Reid Bill, ratemaking cannot induce further efficiencies once competitive forces have driven out all elements of monopoly power. Yet all firms are trapped, for the only way in which they can escape ever more onerous requirements and restrictions is to render themselves ineligible to enroll new groups or individuals—whose health insurance, of course, their tax dollars will continue to fund. In addition, right now the Reid Bill subjects plans outside the Exchanges to certain other legal requirements, which could easily be tightened down the road. The non-Exchange health insurance issuers are, therefore, placed in an untenable position that exposes them to the multiple strategies in the Reid bill that control rates and set the terms of service and that will have three unacceptable consequences: (1) to reduce the rate of return of health insurance companies below competitive levels, (2) to pile expensive administrative mandates on them, and (3) to generate major uncertainties as to how the federal obligations on such companies will pan out.

At this point, there is a near mathematical certainty that the scheme of health-insurance market regulation contemplated by the Reid bill will reduce the risk-adjusted rate of return below the level needed to keep these firms in the individual and small-group health-insurance markets. I am not aware of a single provision in the Reid Bill that looks to ensuring a minimum rate of return. And there are countless provisions in the bill that impose new obligations to cover services while eliminating the revenue sources to deal with them. It is just this combination of regulatory programs that leads the CBO to treat private health insurance issuers as part of a federal program--as though they have been subject to de facto nationalization.

This systemic regulation of both Exchange and non-Exchange carriers shows, moreover, that those health-insurance issuers that participate in the Exchange are shorn of all constitutional rights. The requirement that the states order rebates of money spent on non-claim expenses is not constitutionally permissible unless and until the Reid Bill makes some allowance for earning a reasonable rate of return. That return, moreover, must take into account the extra riskiness that flows from the grant of broad delegated authority to the Secretary.

In addition, the decision to order rebates in good years without adjustments for the losses in bad years makes it impossible for a firm to earn a reasonable rate of return. In utility rate regulation, it is not constitutionally permissible to impose an annual rate cap just at the competitive level, while leaving the carrier obligated to eat the losses in poor years. Section 2718 of the Reid bill goes even further than such unconstitutional provisions in the utility context:[3] it imposes a hard cap, without any accurate accounting for administrative costs or any explicit recognition of the constitutional right to earn a reasonable profit.

To make matters worse, these overall caps apply on top of all the restrictions on the ability to decline coverage or vary rates that are involved in other provisions of the Reid Bill. These provisions necessarily raise the administrative costs of providing insurance. There are no upper bounds on what can be required by various federal and state officials who are charged with oversight of individual and small-group plans in many instances, and all health-care plans in others. At this point, it is only a matter of time before the cost obligations are so enormous that even complete freedom in setting prices would not allow the firm to remain in business. Nor will this problem be cured by the vast pattern of subsidies and taxes that permeate the rest of the bill. Quite to the contrary, the subsidies may put greater pressure on the capacity of health insurance companies to operate, given that these firms have no capacity to choose which plans to provide to which customers.

Given these facts, it is impossible for the rate regulation of firms in the competitive health insurance industry to recover the constitutionally permissible rate of return. So long as competitive rates of return remain the constitutional benchmark, rate regulation necessarily fails. The unregulated rates are already at the competitive level. Any system that reduces revenues, raises costs, and increases uncertainty cannot possibly meet the applicable constitutional standard.

To my mind, the only serious question about the legislation is whether a facial challenge will be allowed to the Reid Bill when it does not contain explicit price-control features. Such facial challenge are often denied in land-use cases, but in rate-regulation cases the result has usually been otherwise. To wait until the program has run its course is to consign a health-insurance company to the substantial risk of bankruptcy just for trying to stay in business. It does not have the option to hold off development until the legal uncertainties are resolved. Since neither the United States nor the individual states will pony up the huge losses sustained by the regulated firms, the challenges have to be allowed before the statute is implemented and not afterwards. How this issue will play out in litigation no one can say for sure. But it would be, in my view, irresponsible for the Senate to pass any health reform legislation that does not address the serious constitutional infirmities found in the Reid Bill.

CONCLUSION: This ill-conceived legislation has many provisions that regulate different aspects of private health-insurance companies. Taken together, the combined force of these provisions raises serious constitutional questions. I think that these provisions are so intertwined with the rest of the legislation that it is difficult to see how the entire statute could survive if one of its components is defective to its core. How courts will deal with these difficult issues is of course not known, but rate-regulation cases normally attract a higher level of scrutiny than, say, land-use decisions.

There is, moreover, no quick fix that will eliminate the Reid Bill's major constitutional defects. It would, of course, be a catastrophe if the Congress sought to put this program into place before its constitutionality were tested. Most ratemaking challenges are done on the strength of the record, and I see no reason why a court would let a health-insurance company be driven into bankruptcy before it could present its case that the mixture of regulations and subsidies makes it impossible to earn a reasonable return on its capital. At the very least, therefore, there are massive problems of delayed implementation that will plague any health-care legislation from the date of its passage. I should add that the many broad delegations to key administrative officials will themselves give rise to major delays and additional challenges on statutory or constitutional grounds.

The health of the American people should not be held hostage to such unwise legislation. The Senate should reject the Reid Bill because of the unsustainability of the statutory scheme regulating health-insurance markets. But there is also little doubt that its central arrangements are unconstitutional, and will face serious legal challenge for years to come.

You Are Here

Groove on this.

Darwinist Hacks Are Too Dim To Realize This

You can't have it both ways:

Prominent philosopher and legal scholar Thomas Nagel, an atheist, endorses an argument that is obvious: if the argument against intelligent design in biology (Darwinism) counts as a scientific argument, then the argument for intelligent design in biology must count as a scientific argument, because the two differing conclusions are just the negative and affirmative denouement of the same argument. That is of course not to say that one or the other argument about design is true; it is merely to say the obvious: that for either to be true, the question of intelligent design must be a scientific question.

Nagel applies this self-evident observation to the teaching of evolution in schools:

From the beginning it has been commonplace to present the theory of evolution by random mutation and natural selection as an alternative to intentional design as an explanation of the functional organization of living organisms. The evidence for the theory is supposed to be evidence for the absence of purpose in the causation of the development of life-forms on this planet. It is not just the theory that life evolved over billions of years, and that all species are descended from a common ancestor. Its defining element is the claim that all this happened as the result of the appearance of random and purposeless mutations in the genetic material followed by natural selection due to the resulting heritable variations in reproductive fitness. It displaces design by proposing an alternative...It is therefore puzzling that the denial of this inference, i.e., the claim that the evidence offered for the theory does not support the kind of explanation it proposes, and that the purposive alternative has not been displaced, should be dismissed as not science. The contention seems to be that, although science can demonstrate the falsehood of the design hypothesis, no evidence against that demonstration can be regarded as scientific support for the hypothesis. Only the falsehood, and not the truth, of ID can count as a scientific claim.

But what does any of this matter when they have the decisive counter-argument of shrieking "Creationist!" like scared little schoolgirls? As far as I've been able to gather the last few years, that's all they have left.

In 1994 We Went Easy On You

AJ Strata:

Thankfully, the liberals have established such a glaring example of incompetence and failure they have set the stage for wiping out the Democrat Party in the up coming elections.

Here is what one Democrat Congressman heard from We The People as he went back into his deep blue state recently for some special election campaigning:

… caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told the group he wanted them to hear first from Rep. Michael Capuano, who’d just returned from a primary campaign for the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.

and took to the microphone, looked out at his colleagues and condensed what he’d learned into two words. “You’re screwed,” …

The nation does not want DC messing with health care right now. It wants good paying, career oriented jobs (not flagman jobs on highway construction). It does not want more debt piled on our children and their children, we want to be able to make a good living and take care of our kids. We don’t want a nanny state – we want independence.

Those voters likely to come out in a rage next November, after we suffer through this holiday in a mess, are just licking their chops to throw the bums out. The Dems are screwed. If they think 1994 was bad they will soon find out what bad is really like. In 1994 we had just beaten the evil Saddam Hussein, the Iron Curtain of oppression had just fallen and democracies were blossoming all across the former Soviet Union. The need for warriors on the front lines had just dissipated massively (which had been the traditional conservative strong point).

Even more the nation was recovering from a mild recession and the nation decided to give the Democrats a shot at bringing on that Nirvana they keep claiming is only a few lefty policies away. Against this back drop the Democrats were booted from decades of control of Congress because of liberal over reaching.

But in 1994 the over reaching (and incompetence) never had a chance to stop the peace spreading across the world or the booming 1990’s dot com bubble.

2009 is not 1994 – it will be much, much worse for Democrats There is no peace spreading through out the world, there is no booming economy in motion. There is no buffer to hide the liberal insanity.


Now let’s fast forward to April 15th, 2010. There will still be high unemployment and underemployment. There will still be record breaking deficits. There will be no fix to health care. There will be more people fed up with liberal fiction.

Now let’s fast forward to Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer. Jobs will not have come back, the deficits will have grown some more and the health care taxes will be biting hard (but no fix scheduled for 3 more years). The summer economy will be in a shambles. More foreclosures, more bank closings, more angst and suffering.

Now let’s move to July 4th, where the DC democrats will be pretending they saved the planet and the country. The stagecraft will be glaringly at odds with the reality of more months of a jobless recovery.

Now forward to Labor Day. School is starting and people are struggling to afford new supplies and clothes. The underemployment picture will not have changed, and we face a fall just like the one we just went through.

Does any sane person think the Democrats will be rewarded at the voting booth by the army of seniors and independents who will be coming out in angry droves? The only question we have as a nation right now is can we survive until next Thanksgiving, when we may actually be giving thanks for a new lease on life.


Spelling It Out As Clearly As Possible For The Commie Scumbags

An update from the Nebraska doctor mentioned here:

To those who would accuse me of greed: I don’t make as much as you think I do. I give every one of my patients the very best care I can offer, regardless of their ability to pay. And I do NOT begrudge my mechanic or my appliance repairmen their salaries. Not one bit. I gladly pay them what I owe them. What you leftist idiots don’t understand is this: I am forced to accept $35 for an office visit by a medicaid or medicare patient. I. Can’t. Afford. It. On that enforced wage, I can’t pay my nurses. I can’t pay my billing secretaries. I can’t pay my receptionist. I. Can’t. Survive. On. Obamacare. Get it?! I. Can’t. Pay. My. Nurses. On. Ben. Nelson. Wages. Get it? I hope so. You think I’m greedy? I went to medical school as a former nurse at age 36. I have over $180,000 dollars in student loans. I. Can’t. Survive. On. Obamacare. I hope this helps. I don’t make as much as you might think. And most of what I earn goes to repaying my student loans. I love my little family medicine clinic in Friend. I love being a doctor in rural Nebraska. I love my patients and I love rural family medicine. But Ben Nelson sold me out. Thanks again for letting me vent. I’m not greedy. I don’t envy the wages of my blue-collar friends. But I can’t survive or pay my employees on Uncle Sam’s reimbursement rate for my services.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sharpen The Pitchforks, And Start Agitating For Secession

The WSJ on the nightmare about to be inflicted on us via Obamacare.

What She Said

An open letter to Benedict Nelson:

Dear Senator Nelson:

I send this message under “Tort Reform” because the current monstrosity you have pledged your support to says nothing whatsoever about Tort Reform. You have sold the physicians of Nebraska for zilch (zilch for us, but beaucoup federal bucks for you and the liberal partisans in this state). As a family practice physician in Small Town, Nebraska, I was counting on you to be the lone voice of Democratic sanity on this issue, but you sold me out. I will dedicate
every spare minute of my time and every spare dollar I have to defeating you, should you run for re-election. The long hours I spent on my medical education and the long hours I spend treating my patients are nothing but chump change to you and your Democrat colleagues in Washington. I especially can’t wait for your equivocation and milquetoast evasion when your “compromises” on the abortion language in the bill are silently erased or quietly (on-little-legislative-cat’s-feet) eviscerated in the House/Senate give-and-take. Go on: Bet me that you won’t wuss-out on this issue!

I know you won’t give two-seconds to this letter, but I had to write it. I’m a primary care doctor in YOUR state, and you sold me out. I didn’t slog through 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency just to have you hand my career and my patient/doctor relationships over to government lifers. Your gutless acquiescence to Obama and Harry Reid and ‘Nanny’ Pelosi will NOT be forgotten.

Thank you, Ben, for forcing doctors like me to earn less than the repairmen who fix our appliances. Case in point: We recently had our dishwasher fixed. The repairman who came to our house charged $65 just to come and ‘diagnose’ the problem, then charged another $180 to ‘fix’ the problem. You and your fellow lawmakers have fixed MY going rate (Medicare) at $35 per-visit. Thank you for securing such a ‘lucrative’ rate for me! Thank you so much for making me–someone with 8 years of education!–make less than a mechanic or appliance repair technichian. And thanks especially for falling in line with Obama and the rest of the Democrats to make such a socialist system permanent.

You have my disgust and disdain forever, you socialist-coddling coward.

Becky F. Hollibaugh, D.O.
Warren Memorial Hospital
Ziimmerman Clinic
Friend, NE 68359

Saturday, December 19, 2009


No, not Benedict Nelson's sell-out, but Star Wars, Episode I. I've been enjoying watching this detailed takedown.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Despite A Total Lack Of Accountability, Plunder Is Somehow Resulting

A couple of Michael Shedlock posts highlight some details of the massive looting operation now being perpetrated by government employees, many of whom aren't even showing up for work.



Some gems from the intro to an article cited at the first link:

Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's. Despite its spending more money per capita, period, than almost any city in the nation, San Francisco has poorly managed, budget-busting capital projects, overlapping social programs no one is certain are working, and a transportation system where the only thing running ahead of schedule is the size of its deficit.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This Looks Good To Leftist Eyes

All veins lead to Washington.

Coburn Pulls The Trigger

And forces the reading of a 767 page amendment no one expected to pass anyway. It took 17 minutes just to read the 6-page table of contents. I checked out the CSPAN feed, and, yes, some poor sap is reading this monster out loud.

Michelle Malkin notes that the bill is filibustering itself:

If you have cable TV, tune in to C-SPAN now. Or watch live here.

This is transparency in action.

The Senate’s chief socialist, Bernie Sanders, offered a single-payer health care amendment. It would open Medicare to all regardless of age, income, etc., and would be paid through higher income taxes. The normal procedure on the Senate floor would have been to dispense with the reading of the amendment. But “to alert taxpayers to this latest Washington scheme to take away your health care decisions,” Senator Coburn’s office writes, Sen. Coburn demanded that the full text of the 767 page Sanders amendment be read by the Senate clerk.

It’s being read now.

The clerk just read a droning bureaucratic section on government oversight of hearing aid tests and another on “dietary management” services.

(Fun fact: It took 17 minutes to read the 6 page table of contents.)

Big Nanny dreams and schemes laid bare.


10:55am Eastern. The clerk is now reading a section involving dental services, with specific details about “molars” and “posterior teeth.”

Ed Morrissey notes the strategy:

What does this do? It makes a hash out of Harry Reid’s plan to move the bill through the Senate by Christmas. Twelve hours of floor time for just a single amendment means that no other business can be conducted until at least Friday. Coburn apparently launched this effort in response to an attempt by Reid to shove the bill to a cloture vote without giving everyone enough time to read the bill or peruse the CBO analysis, due this week.

It’s a reminder that even with a supermajority, Reid needs to work with the minority to keep momentum. He can’t pull a Nancy Pelosi jamdown in the upper chamber, and any further attempts will mean weeks of bill reading as the legislation effectively filibusters itself.

It’s on.


Unintended consequences.

The Sane Are Slowly Starting To Back Away

The dynamic is changing:

I've just been watching this video, of Lord Monkton laying into the Climategate gang. What makes it so potent is that he is quite bluntly calling them crooks, and calling anyone who still follows their fraudulent prophecies dupes and fools. He names names, and crimes. Yes, crimes. And yes, criminals. Criminals with names. Monkton does all this in his posh British public school voice. Nevertheless, you can almost see him doing that thing that fist fighters do, but with their beckoning hands rather than with their mouths, and pointing at their own chins. Come and get me! Give me your best shot! I say you are a pack of scoundrels. Prove me wrong! I say that the logical thing to do about "climate change" is: nothing. Nothing. Why on earth do you still have the damned nerve to think anything else? Such pugilistic vulgarities are not to be found in the text of the talk. Monkton is too canny, too cool, to get that excited. But that is the subtext.

Here is some other evidence that those with the job of chasing crooks are now getting interested in this.

I agree with Johnathan Pearce in the previous posting that the old-school media are definitely, albeit belatedly and with much embarrassment and confusion, starting to notice all this. You can feel that most crucial of propaganda processes happening with Climategate: the reversing of the burden of proof. Unfair to all the fraud detectives (Watts, McIntyre, and the rest of them, including Monkton himself) though it undoubtedly was, those noble toilers, until the Climategate revelations erupted, had to prove everything, in defiance of the default position. Their every tiny blemish was jumped upon. Their major claims were ignored. Now the default position is slowly mutating into: It's all made-up nonsense. And the burden of proof is shifting onto the shoulders of all those who want to go on believing in such ever more discredited alarmism. In short, our side is winning this argument, big time.

And it turns out that the rich countries do indeed wish to remain rich, as I merely hoped was the case a week ago. The underlying point being: nobody is actually as scared about climate change as they were a few months back. Doubters who feared that there might have been "something in it", "no smoke without fire", etc., now doubt far more completely. All but the craziest warmists are now going rather quieter. The people who matter no longer feel deep in their guts, those of them who ever did, that there has to be a deal, or the earth will fry. All potential parties to it are now more willing than they were to walk away from Copenhagen with no deal, because the fear of being blamed for not reaching a deal is now (in the nick of time) being replaced by the fear of being accused of having reached a bad deal...

Monday, December 14, 2009

"The Milli Vanilli Of Politicians"

The young followers of the Pied Piper are slowly learning the truth.


Denninger on derivatives, credit insurance, slicing and dicing of risk, etc:

This scam is in fact exactly what Paul Volcker was talking about in the piece quoted on the 9th:

“I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth — one shred of evidence,” said Mr Volcker, who ran the Fed from 1979 to 1987 and is now chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

He said that financial services in the United States had increased its share of value added from 2 per cent to 6.5 per cent, but he asked: “Is that a reflection of your financial innovation, or just a reflection of what you’re paid?”


Effectively, what the financial system has done is siphon off an increasing portion of the rents charged for various activities while justifying the increasing prices (that is, lower risk and therefore less reserve against "adverse events") through concealment via bogus "risk-shifting" and "risk-management" that in fact never really occurred.

Remember, "rent" is a generic term. We think of it as what you pay to occupy an apartment, but in fact "rent" is charged for the use of capital in all of its forms - as a place to live, as a means of financing investment, as a means of financing speculation. All involve the charging of rent of one form or another, and all the financial system has done over the last 20 years is find ways to increase the amount of rent that lands in the financial system itself - instead of being distributed to the actual owners of the capital that is being lent out!

The simple reality is that CDOs, CDS and similar articles when used to hedge large quantities of financial instruments or events (such as by a bank) are an artifice. The only way that one can "deal in" CDS and make a profit, as the banks have done, is if someone is willing to sell you protection at less than the true risk-adjusted cost, or you can manage to sell it at higher than the risk-adjusted price.

Both require that someone be deceived - that is, that someone intentionally misrepresent either by commission or by intentional concealment of material facts.

This is the definition of fraud!

Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

It is not possible for you to buy protection for less than the actual risk of default from a party who can pay in the event of default. This should be instantly obvious to anyone who applies more than 15 seconds of thought to the problem - on balance it is impossible to insure a pool of risks for less money than the risk of loss across the pool.

Let's assume the risk of default is 1% and recovery if there is a default is 50. Therefore, if you have $100 million of such bonds 1% of them, or $1 million worth, will default, and of that $1 million there will be a $500,000 loss.

The price of purchasing insurance against that pool must always be more than $500,000.

If it is less then the company writing it will not be able to pay. If it is in fact equal they will not be able to pay, since the company must expend some amount of money (no matter how small) employing their staff and maintaining their facilities (buildings, etc.)

It is reasonable for someone to buy insurance against a single event, as a single actor, holding a single risk. That's because their individual risk is large for the return they receive. It is why you buy insurance against a fire in your house - the risk of a fire is small, but the damage if you suffer a fire is large.

But if you own 100,000 properties dispersed across the nation with no particular concentration you're an idiot to buy insurance against each and every property having a fire. Why? Because it is axiomatic that you will pay more for the insurance than you will lose to fires! You must - otherwise the insurance company that sells you the policies will go broke and be unable to pay at all!

The key point here is that when you buy below risk-adjusted cost "insurance" you have in fact bought nothing and are just as exposed as if you had not purchased said "insurance" at all.

It is therefore never prudent and appropriate for anyone who holds a large enough pool of risk to "transfer" that risk to a third party because the cost of doing so will always be higher than the cost of simply absorbing any losses that occur.

This must always be the case unless the organization holding the large pool of risks is able to find someone who will write that insurance at a loss. This, in turn can only happen if the entity writing the insurance either (1) is unable to appropriately judge the risk compared to the person purchasing the insurance or (2) is unable to pay if the loss occurs.

This is the root of the scam folks, and that we refuse to understand and face the math is part and parcel of why it is that we continue to be abused by these large financial interests.

The sooner we wake up the better, as the math is never, ever wrong.

See original for helpful formatting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Excellent Logo

Seen here:

Nice Whitewash Attempt


The Wages Of Climategate

Good J.R. Dunn piece.


We're getting close to the point where the dictionary definition of "journalist" will have to be altered to read, "A media personality who attempts to stifle news stories out of cowardice, ideology, or for pay."


It may well be that both directors will be whitewashed by their respective institutions. But discredited as they are, it really doesn't matter. Neither can ever again pose as the disinterested, incorruptible scientist, and their programs will remain irrevocably tainted. Science as a discipline has its own way of dealing with these types. Papers will be returned with a thank-you note. Grant proposals will become tied up. Grad students will be advised to look elsewhere for doctoral material. Phil and Mike are now and forever climatology's used-car salesmen, and may as well get used to the plaid jacket two sizes too large and the white patent-leather shoes. Though I wouldn't put it past the Swedes to throw them a Nobel next time around.


At last we arrive at Copenhagen... only to discover that there's not much to address there at all. The grand climate summit, which was supposed to herald the advent of some sort of "global government", was in trouble even before Climategate, with the preliminary negotiations, intended to provide a fait accompli for the official proceedings, petering out to nothing even before the first delegates boarded the UN's solar-powered blimps for the long trip to Denmark.


Reports from Copenhagen since then have been muddled, confused, and deeply uninteresting. Copenhagen was supposed to be high real-world drama, with the world's leaders frantically working to stave off the Big Heat in much the same fashion as they might a menacing comet or asteroid, while the world looked on in frightened awe. The CRU e-mails, though unmentioned by anyone apart from the Saudis, have transformed it all into a cartoon, with our noble, tireless statesmen become so many Wile E. Coyotes heading off the cliff with rockets strapped to their skates.

(Another casualty is the great Al Gore, who had originally scheduled an event in which $1,200 would purchase a signed copy of his latest book, a handshake, and a personal blessing from Mother Gaia. Gore was unfortunately forced to cancel. He has to watch out for process servers now.)


Of course, the big target is Al. There are thousands of lawyers burning office lights until all hours figuring out how to take down Al Gore. Thousands more are being decanted from the lawyers' replication vats for the sole purpose of pleading "Gore v. Whoever". The legal aspects of the new industry of carbon-offsets remain in large part unexplored. I'm sure that Al will relish his role as a pioneer in establishing necessary legal benchmarks as he has in so much else.


Far from being accepted wisdom, global warming has always been viewed warily by the average American, as yet another excuse for governmental interference and pocket-picking. It won't take much in the way of reiteration to turn this into a raging conviction, with considerable ancillary damage to the progressive program as a whole.


But warming is politically dead. It would require a brave politician to inconvenience voters, steal their money, and ruin their jobs based on premises that may be fraudulent. That "may" is the crucial term -- fraud doesn't have to be proven. Doubt is all that's required. When fraud enters the picture, everything else -- certainty, veracity, trust -- gets up and leaves. Fakery distorts everything that it touches. To claim that, even though the last batch of data was tainted, the next batch just might be okay, is the same as saying that the last e-mail offer you got from the Nigerian President's Office may have cleaned out your bank account, but this one you just opened has got to be for real.

We're Darned Lucky It's Even This Warm

Two videos you need to see and pass on.


Seen in comment here:

“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

— H.L. Mencken

Friday, December 11, 2009

Palin/Shatner 2012


Go Home, Congress!

A don't-miss Anchoress post.

Purchased Indulgences

No real surprise:

SO DOES THIS MEAN ED BEGLEY, JR. EATS BABIES? Can organic produce and natural shampoo turn you into a heartless jerk? “New research by Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong at the University of Toronto levels an even graver charge: that virtuous shopping can actually lead to immoral behavior. In their study (described in a paper now in press at Psychological Science), subjects who made simulated eco-friendly purchases ended up less likely to exhibit altruism in a laboratory game and more likely to cheat and steal.”

It doesn't mean he eats babies, but it almost certainly means he supports tearing 'em apart in the womb.

Tree hugging does not atone for baby killing. But that doesn't mean a damned lot of people aren't trying.

Says Ace of Spades in response to the cited research:

Pretty interesting. Two possible conclusions:

1) Liberals just suck.

2) Liberals are effectively buying post-modern papal indulgences, they believe, by paying for their sins with minor changes in their consumer purchasing patterns. By buying this supposedly eco-friendly soup, they've saved the environment a little, and satisfied their own (apparently low) threshold of moral and upright behavior, and have a great deal of wiggle room when it comes to other areas of their lives.

I sort of buy both but especially that Number Two. I have long, and long-windedly, argued that liberals indulge themselves with a great many of Ostentatious, Conspicuous Pseudo-Moral Gestures, no different than the judgmental prig they take as representative of a "Christian," a stereotype they know almost exclusively from movies like Footloose.

The gestures are directed both outward and inward, outward to convince others of one's superior morality, but more importantly inward, to convince themselves.

Anyone who's ever talked to such a person comes away thinking, "Good Lord, you have fashioned yourself a real crazy-quilt of ad hoc, made-up, superstitious neo-pagan rules to live by! How do you keep up with all these restrictions and blather?"

It seems like a patchwork super-structure of ersatz, faddish morality designed with only one conceivable purpose: To supplant the conventional morality taught by traditional institutions. Apparently the soul still craves the feeling of living a just and righteous life, even after traditional notions of the just and righteous have been abandoned. The entire code of forbidden foods and rituals of eating in Leviticus is overwritten, line by line and jot by tittle, by some new equally oddball code: Pork is not precisely forbidden, but you can't eat pork that was acquired from a farm more than 60 miles away; and Thou Shall Not Eat Chilean Sea Bass, at least not if it has been caught by a commercial net.

In some cases it might make a lick of sense (okay, maybe the sea bass is being overfished and we hardly want that) and in other cases it's purely a neo-pagan gesture to the new gods. I really do not believe the trivial "carbon costs" of shipping some pork in by railway car are anything more than a rounding error in the carbon costs of feeding that pig and sustaining a farm in the first place.

Oh, and carbon costs are jive in the first place.

Net result? One's sense of place in the universe is affirmed, and one is given the fulfillment of knowing one is doing Gods' work (plural intended) in making rather trivial shopping adjustments. And, even better than that: One gets that crucially-important rush of feeling superior to someone else.

And one more bonus: If you're doing right by Mother Earth, it frees you up to cut corners with your fellow man.

It All Makes Sense Once You Realize The Business Isn't To Deliver News, But Comfort

A Michael Malone insight:

Newspapers too, seem to have figured out a way to limp along at least for another couple decades (at which point there will be no one left in the country who has actually read a newspaper) by slashing overhead, building marginally profitable web sites, and morphing their product to fit their remaining audiences.

What I mean by the last is that newspapers (and even more obviously, troubled national newsmagazines like Newsweek) have essentially abandoned the news business and gone into the comfort business. In other words, they have a pretty good idea now just who constitutes the heart of their loyal readership, and they write for that group, with the intent of either delivering news that fits their world view or sanitizing bad news that does not. And, since there is no way that they can deliver that information in a timely way – they assume that their readers have already learned from the Web about important events – now it is the paper’s job to reduce any discomfort or cognitive dissonance by contextualize the story into the tribe’s existing prejudices and self-image.

This goes a long ways towards explaining what, to an old newsie like me, has been some strange behavior recently by some of our most venerable and biggest national newspapers. Whatever your politics, as a reporter there are just some stories that you would be all over – and yet, in the last couple years we’ve seen one hot story after another all-but ignored by the traditional media. For example, White House scandals are always big news, yet readers of the New York Times have largely been presented with a series of departures from this Administration without ever having heard about the scandals (covered to exhaustion in the blogosphere) that lead to those departures.

An even bigger example is the so-called ClimateGate scandal of the last few weeks, where leaked emails suggested that some global warming experts were misrepresenting and fudging data, all while punishing apostasy in their ranks, to make their case. Given that we are about to turn the world economy upside-down to prevent perceived man-made global warming, this is about the biggest story imaginable. And yet, days went by before most newspapers even deigned to report the story, in many cases using the occasion to defend the scientists.

Appalling, sure, but why do it? I’ve puzzled over this for a long time. I don’t entirely buy the argument that it is politics, pure and simple. I think it is more than that: that newspapers and their editors want to give their declining pools of readers what they want to read – and when the news, no matter how juicy, is not just going to be upsetting (that’s usually okay), but challenges their sense of the way the world works, the story has to be spiked, dribbled out carefully, or swathed in more comforting ‘analysis’.

Will this new editorial model work to save newspapers? Well, it seems to be hanging on to that residual group of loyal, but aging, readers. It doesn’t seem to be capturing any new young readers.

So perhaps the real business model is simple codependancy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Houston, They Have A Problem"

A real rocket-scientist on the non-science of AGW. One of the best "technical" Climategate posts currently out there, and hot off the presses.

A Little Too Dim To Notice The Circularity

P.Z. Myers:

The resurrection of Jesus is not a reasonable historical event. There are no primary, contemporary accounts of his existence. The books of the Bible that describe him were written decades after the purported event, and most of the biblical accounts are second-, third-, or distant-hand hearsay written by people with a vested interest in promoting a religion [bolding mine].

So, if I understand correctly, the Bible is not reliable, because it is a lie, and we know it is a lie because it speaks of the resurrection of Jesus, which we have no evidence for, because the Bible cannot be that evidence, because the people who wrote the Bible had a vested interest in promoting a certain idea, namely that Jesus resurrected from the dead.

So I guess evidence for something cannot count as evidence for something if it purports to be evidence for something.

This is not even to speak of the inane "hearsay" accusations for which our empirical scientist has zero evidence, nor the inanity of considering something written a mere couple of decades after the fact, well withing living memory (and in a society which was much more adept at memorizing oral history than ours is), as somehow invalid on the face of it. Hey, where were you when the Space Shuttle blew up in '86, almost a quarter of a century ago? Liar.